We have to admit one of the reasons we wanted to review Philip Bowne’s debut Cows Can’t Jump is the fact he’s a writer for the Wombles. Childhood nostalgia goes a long way. We’re delighted then that Bowne’s novel doesn’t disappoint. It’s sharply observed, well-paced, funny and yet has a poignancy that’s at times surprising. One can easily imagine the book as a movie. It’s incredibly visual, Bowne deftly sketching his characters and landscape with the ease of a seasoned pro.

Set against the backdrop of referendum and pre-Brexit Britain, the story follows Billy, Bowne’s very appealing protagonist. Eighteen years old and desperate to begin life, Billy’s stuck working as a gravedigger, a job his mum got him, and dealing with a dysfunctional family. (Who isn’t?) Then he meets Swiss Eva, the girl of his dreams. But what will he do to get that chance at love? How far will he go? And so begins the adventure of a lifetime.

Cows Can’t Jump is very enjoyable. It’s a lovely bit of escapism, a romp across Europe, where Billy encounters all manner of peoples and things, against a landscape of political and economic shifting sands. It’s well done but it’s Bowne’s humour and lightness of touch that turns this book into the unexpected, a gem. Recommended.


 Cows Can’t Jump | Philip Bowne | Neem Tree Press | September 2020 | pb |

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Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the publisher book tour. Please read the other lovely reviews. Many thanks to lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for arranging it and to the publisher for sending us a review copy. All opinions are our own.

Also of interest: Andy Hamilton’s homage to the long lost letter’;By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’;‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Select Q&As/interviews: ‘Meet Charlie Laidlaw’; ‘Meet Paul E. Hardisty’;‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir’; ’Tom Cox’; ‘Vanda Symon; ‘Gunnar Staalesen’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist‘; Gina Kirkham;John Fairfax’; ‘Ian Ridley’; ‘David Stuart Davies’.


This review is © 2020 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.



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